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This micrograph of fractured magnesium alloy, an image from the University Instrumentation Center’s scanning electron microscope, helps engineering faculty members like Marko Knezevic bring UNH research to the growing advanced manufacturing sector. See story on page 12.

So What At the heart of every research endeavor is a question. How and why does this work? How could we improve it? Who needs the most help, and how can we provide it in ways that enrich the community? As New Hampshire’s flagship public research university, we’re committed to applying this intellectual curiosity and passion toward solving some of the world’s grandest challenges.

In these pages of SPARK, we illustrate how University of New Hampshire researchers engage in important work at the cutting edge of knowledge and how their endeavors matter. Our scientists describe harnessing the latest advances in biotechnology to deliver medicine more effectively, address addiction or even engineer new tissue. Researchers ponder who will care for our aging population and how we can support seniors to thrive and remain healthy. Our engineering faculty members and students work to make cars lighter and more fuel-efficient while maintaining their safety,

and researchers across disciplines are listening closely for insights into the oceans and landscapes around us to discover new resources and protect species and the environment. Here on New Hampshire’s Seacoast, we’re asking — and answering — questions that focus on the continued health of the treasured, fragile Great Bay estuary. With each story in this issue, our researchers, together with our students, ponder not only “Why?” and “How?” but “So what?” Will the outcome make our lives healthier, our economy and technology stronger, our world better and safer? How can we move our ideas and discoveries into the marketplace to create jobs and support economic growth? I’m proud to showcase how our research makes a difference to us all. Jan Nisbet Senior Vice Provost for Research University of New Hampshire



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Listening In From the waters of the Arctic to grasslands in Oklahoma, UNH researchers are using sound to see the world more clearly


Warming Earth, Shrinking Mammals A graduate student’s findings from 50 million years ago give insight into future impacts of climate change


The Innovators Fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and contributing to economic development, UNHInnovation has been making waves



12 Industry 4.0 on the Factory Floor As tools and techniques advance, UNH research helps manufacturers innovate

15 Faculty Honors UNH faculty members distinguished themselves with recent awards and appointments

16 Making a Difference to Us All From rural New Hampshire classrooms to the world’s seafloor, UNH research has far-reaching impact


18 Keeping Great Bay Great Across the disciplines and decades, UNH research has helped understand and improve this valuable resource

21 Space Science by the Numbers A quick look at six decades of UNH space science research

22 Attacking Addiction, Saving Lives A new behavioral health initiative brings resources from around UNH to address New Hampshire’s opioid crisis

22 Grand Challenges The world’s most troublesome problems demand an interdisciplinary approach that includes the liberal arts


23 Wisdom on Aging As America gets older, UNH research creates knowledge that promotes happy, healthy aging

28 Innovation from Bench to Bedside New research center brings together multiple disciplines to advance solutions for human health and well-being

31 Creative and Scholarly Works A spotlight on recent faculty artistic and scholarly achievements

32 A Closing Inquiry UNH President Mark W. Huddleston reflects on the research legacy he’ll leave when he retires in June





LISTENING IN From the waters of the Arctic to grasslands in Oklahoma, UNH researchers are using sound to see the world more clearly BY JENNIFER SAUNDERS



Can you hear that? All around us, in every moment, is an entire world of sound. With acoustic technology, UNH researchers are painting a picture of what is happening on Earth, under its oceans and between some of its smallest creatures. Their findings are helping us better understand topics ranging from how new technologies affect endangered species to how to best mitigate oil spills. Acoustics provide minimally invasive ways to capture data on the impact of noise on humans and animals. That’s the strategy used by Dan Howard, assistant professor of biological sciences, whose bug-filled lab primarily listens to insects to learn how they communicate and are affected by the noisy world around them.

On a typical morning, Mia Phillips, a master’s degree student studying integrative and organismal biological sciences, is investigating the potential effects of wind turbine-induced noise on American burying beetles, an endangered species, while fellow master’s degree student Sarah Dodgin is weeding through approximately 50,000 one-minute audio files to assess the consequences of prescribed grassland fires to biodiversity. Listening in the wild provides many opportunities to “monitor the heartbeat of the ecosystem,” Howard says. “Are there changes that coincide with climate change models? What do those changes reflect or signify?” Michael Palace and Ruth Varner of the department of Earth sciences and the Institute for

the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space are using hydrophones to identify the presence of methane below the water and land surface of the Arctic Circle — critical information for ongoing work in climate change. “Wetlands and lakes are a large, natural source of methane,” says Varner, professor of Earth sciences, explaining hydrophones let them “hear” methane bubbles to learn how often they occur and how much methane is emitted. “The sensors we fabricate are inexpensive, and this has allowed us to deploy them at many sites and, at these sites, cover the landscape in a way not previously available,” says Palace, an associate professor of environmental science.



Above left: Gabriela Chio ’18 and graduate student Mia Phillips listen for vibrations generated by an American burying beetle (below). Above right: Alexandra Padilla and Scott Loranger, both Ph.D. students in the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, conduct methane acoustics work off the coast of Goleta, Calif., with associate professor of mechanical engineering Tom Weber.

It’s important, Varner says, to know how these natural ecosystems are behaving to inform models of methane emissions that will ultimately help predict how this emission pathway may change as the climate does. At the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, where acoustical research has made possible the detailed maps that give the center world-renowned status, Thomas Weber and Jennifer Miksis-Olds have been back-to-back recipients of the Medwin Prize in Acoustical Oceanography from the Acoustical Society of America. Weber, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, uses sonar technology to identify methane bubbles in the water column. The importance of this research, he explains, is to gather objective data to inform decisions ranging from how to best mitigate oil spills to addressing climate change. “Most of our



planet is ocean. That’s extremely important for things like climate, modeling for weather and daily life,” Weber says. Weber explains how acoustics provide researchers the chance to “see” below the ocean, “allowing humans to explore its many facets as a habitat, resource, recreational area and even a military battle space.” With acoustics, for example, his team can detect gas bubbles just a few millimeters in radius in 1,500 meters of ocean. “That’s pretty amazing. The scale is just enormous.” On more than one occasion, Weber’s research has taken him to the Gulf of Mexico to investigate oil spills. His team, which includes graduate students like Alexandra Padilla, who came to UNH from the University of Puerto Rico to

pursue her doctorate under his guidance, is using acoustics to develop methods to help responders understand what is happening beneath the ocean’s surface. “Dispersants are toxic, so you want your response to be measured and accurate,” Weber says. Acoustic research can provide the information to do just that. The work has long-term implications as well. “Climate is changing. We want to understand the causes and the contributors, and what are the impacts of warming oceans on methane gas bubbles? What is their role in climate change? We need to provide evidence to assess what is happening and to what extent,” Weber says.

For Miksis-Olds, the associate director of research for the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, the “why” behind underwater eavesdropping includes learning about ocean conditions like wind speed and ice cover as well as marine life. “The ocean is a naturally noisy place with animals, wind, waves and ice,” she explains. “We are examining the question of how human impact comes into play: How does it — or does it — affect marine life?” Miksis-Olds is lead principal investigator of the Atlantic Deepwater Ecosystem Observatory Network for the U.S. mid- and south Atlantic outer continental shelf, which aims to generate long-term measurements of both natural and human factors in the region. “This is extremely important baseline information as our country considers development in that area for energy resources,” she explains.

Miksis-Olds leads the new Northeast Regional Environmental Acoustics Working Group, which includes Howard and Weber. Funded through UNH’s Collaborative Research Excellence Initiative, the group aims to build interdisciplinary partnerships to address issues related to environmental acoustics. She sums up the big-picture importance of acoustical research: “We can learn a lot about the environment by listening. We can do a lot of environmental monitoring that will help protect our ocean resources.” environmentalacoustics

“The oceans are continually changing, and we can use sound to monitor that change — and hopefully to predict change before it happens.” Jennifer Miksis-Olds, associate director of research, School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering



The Innovators


rom its new offices that straddle the UNH campus and the town of Durham, UNHInnovation has been quietly — and not so quietly — making waves recently. Its Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center, known as the ECenter, won the 2017 Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center Award from the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship. The ECenter aims to build a culture of entrepreneurship on campus, which it’s done in part by leveraging a gift from Harry Patten ’58 to fund five UNH students to do paid summer internships with start-ups and to create the i2 (Idea and Innovation) Passport program, which rewards students — with an additional focus on firstgeneration college students, for whom the financial risk of entrepreneurship might be especially daunting — for engaging in entrepreneurship activities on campus. “As a first-generation student, it has been especially hard coming into college not knowing what you’re going to do when it comes to loans and your future career path, but i2 Passport and the ECenter have really opened up new doors for me to explore and see what I’m capable of,” Abby Kourafas ’18, one of the six i2 Passport winners, said of her $3,500 award.

Warming Earth, Shrinking Mammals


o understand the future effects of climate change on mammals, doctoral candidate Abigail D’Ambrosia looked back — way back — in time, to an era 50 million years ago when the Earth experienced a series of extreme warming events. She found that even in the lesser of these events, when the Earth warmed only about 5 degrees Fahrenheit, several mammals (Arenahippus, an early horse the size of a small dog, and Diacodexis, a rabbit-sized predecessor to hoofed mammals) got about 15 percent smaller. For the study, D’Ambrosia, a student of professor of Earth sciences William Clyde in the Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science program, collected teeth and jaw fragments in the fossil-rich Bighorn Basin region of Wyoming. “This suggests there may be a relationship between the magnitude of a global warming event and the degree of associated mammal dwarfism,” she says. “The hope is that it will help us learn more about the possible effects of today’s global warming.” The study was published in the journal Science Advances.  BETH POTIER g



In November, the Association of Public & LandGrant Universities recognized UNH’s exemplary contributions to regional economic development and resiliency with its Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation. UNHInnovation led the university to a record $844,000 in commercialization revenue in FY17. “Our objective is to be the economic development engine of the state through knowledge,” says Marc Sedam, associate vice provost for innovation and new ventures and managing director of UNHInnovation.  BETH POTIER

Faculty Excellence This year, UNH welcomed more than 60 new professors, researchers and specialists in a range of disciplines.

“I am excited about the future of our university as we welcome another cohort of accomplished academics to UNH. These new faculty members enrich our campuses with their diverse backgrounds, experiences and interests and are already making a positive impact on our students and in their fields.” Nancy Targett, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs



RESEARCH ON THE EDGE UNH’s Flow Physics Facility (FPF), the largest wind tunnel of its type in the world, helps researchers understand the aerodynamics of situations such as atmospheric wind over the ocean, or the flow of air over a commercial airplane or seawater over a submarine. Recently, it served research more athletic in nature. c



IN THE SPOTLIGHT... • For their senior capstone project, mechanical engineering students and UNH cycling team members Adam Lovell ’17 and Alec Cunningham ’17 merged their academic and athletic passions in a study that used the FPF to explore the dynamics of drafting behind other cyclists during crosswinds.

• Before NIKE’s three elite runners attempted to break the elusive two-hour barrier for a marathon in May 2017, the sportswear giant sent scientists from its Breaking2 team to the FPF to test running aerodynamics.




As tools and techniques advance, UNH research helps manufacturers innovate BY DAVE MOORE



When it comes to landing gear for airplanes, you want something that’s just as strong on the thirtythousandth landing as on the first. That’s the kind of perfection that captivates and motivates researchers at the University of New Hampshire. Alone, in pairs, in collaborative teams both on campus and in larger consortia around the nation, UNH faculty are conducting breakthrough research supporting the $1.7 trillion industry known as advanced manufacturing — the use of innovative technology to improve products or processes.

The fruits of their research, which focuses on areas as diverse as woven composites, lightweighting metals, polymers and the “smart” factories initiative called Industry 4.0, are helping some of the country’s manufacturing giants — familiar brands like Ford, General Motors, Alcoa, U.S. Steel and the U.S. Army — and lesser known high-tech firms transform themselves for the future. Several New Hampshirebased companies such as Albany International and Turbocam International that make components for jet engines and landing gear used by commercial airlines tap UNH’s advanced manufacturing research, partnering with faculty and their students to test, measure and improve the materials in their products. “Industry 4.0 is about the fourth Industrial Revolution, where your shop floor has machines sensing, adjusting processes and communicating with one another every step of manufacturing,” says Brad Kinsey, professor and chair of the mechanical engineering department. “The goal is to make better products faster and at scale. And we want to position UNH at the forefront of this movement.” Kinsey works with leading U.S. auto manufacturers to find ways to make lighter cars without sacrificing safety. “My research on ways to form advanced metals and weld dissimilar materials helps them achieve both objectives,” he says. Nearby in Kingsbury Hall, associate professor of mechanical engineering Yannis Korkolis works along similar lines, studying how materials deform and how they can be shaped without breaking when subjected to various forces and heat during manufacturing. “If you want to make a smart factory, you have to know how the materials behave in order to design processes to work with them,” Korkolis says. For example, an emerging area of advanced manufacturing involves additive manufacturing — 3-D printing — in this case not of plastic trinkets but of parts for jet engines, among other sophisticated equipment. While already in use, 3-D printing may enable companies to manufacture jet engine parts made of nickel-based super alloys. Rather than assembling lots of moving parts out of different materials — and perhaps introducing errors in manufacturing as well as less durable end products — an aerospace giant like Boeing might one day be able to print, say, a dozen turbines.

“Industry 4.0 is about the fourth Industrial Revolution, where your shop floor has machines sensing, adjusting processes and communicating with one another every step of manufacturing.” Brad Kinsey, professor and chair of the mechanical engineering department

When that day comes, they’ll have faculty researchers like mechanical engineering assistant professor Marko Knezevic, professor Igor Tsukrov and their graduate students to thank. They have been working to characterize the properties of various metal alloys such as cobalt, nickel or magnesium and how they react to laser sintering, a process central to realizing the 3-D printing promise. In another project with aerospace applications, Tsukrov and Todd Gross, professor of mechanical engineering, worked with Albany International to solve the problem of “microcracking” in carbon composites used in landing gear. “You want your plane to have gear that can absorb a lot of energy, time after time,” Tsukrov says. He’s turned to 3-D printing as a potential solution. “When you print something, it is complete. There’s nothing to put together. And nothing to come apart,” he says. Knezevic’s research on the behavior of various metal-metal and metal-ceramic composites to laser sintering has applications to things as large as pipelines and as small as biodegradable stents for heart patients. This research employs computer modeling for what materials should be used, how they will react during manufacture and how they can be expected to perform on the ground.



Yaning Li, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, brings 3-D printing to nature-inspired materials, called auxetic chiral composites, that have unique properties when compressed or stretched. 3-D printing lets her manufacture and test these new structures, which have potential applications for biomedicine as well as for cushioning in helmets and even shoes, where they excel at absorbing energy. Associate professor of chemistry John Tsavalas is taking things “down” a notch as part of a proposal to the National Science Foundation to study the behavior of materials built from nanoparticles for the production of human tissues. If the proposal is accepted, his team aims to work with the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) in Manchester, the major partnership led by inventor and DEKA and FIRST Robotics founder Dean Kamen. “One specific project goal is to discover how 3-D printing technology might be adapted to print with highly tailored nano-sized building blocks on which tissues can be grown. Call it ‘better human health through materials,’” Tsavalas says. All this talent and enterprise benefits from UNH’s Center for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Initiative (CAMMI), which facilitates collaborative research and industry partnerships. And the new John Olson Center for Advanced Manufacturing, made possible by a gift from Charlestown-based Whelen Engineering in honor of its longtime president John Olson ’57, will provide students and practitioners alike with hands-on skillsdevelopment opportunities. “The center will have the look and feel of a real factory floor and become a focal point of teaching, research and industry partnership in New Hampshire,” says Olson Center director Dean Bartles. Clearly, the future of advanced manufacturing is present at UNH.

Top: Assistant professor of mechanical engineering Yaning Li brings 3-D printing to materials inspired by nature that have potential applications for biomedicine and cushioning in helmets or footwear. Bottom: Yunyao Jiang, a mechanical engineering doctoral candidate in Li’s lab, uses a 3-D printed prototype of a unique design that could improve drug delivery and “smart” materials.



Faculty Honors Art Greenberg, professor of chemistry, was named a fellow of the American Chemical Society, and Wayne Jones, dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, was elected to its board of directors. Harlan Spence, professor of physics and director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS recognized Spence for his “distinguished contributions to space exploration, the development of instruments to characterize the radiation intensity in space and for continued leadership in the heliophysics community.”

Eleanor Harrison-Buck, associate professor of anthropology, received a Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship to establish a public history museum in Belize that focuses on the Kriol (Creole) community.

Brad Kinsey, professor of mechanical engineering, was named a fellow of the Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Mary Schuh, director of development and consumer affairs at UNH’s Institute on Disability, received the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Foundation Public Policy Fellowship.

The American Physiological Society recognized Patricia Halpin, assistant professor of biological sciences and biotechnology at UNH Manchester, with the 2017 New Investigator Award.

Charles Simic, professor emeritus of English, was named the 2017 Golden Wreath award winner of Struga Poetry Evenings.

Larry Mayer, director of UNH’s Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping and the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He was also appointed to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and inducted into the Hydrographic Society of America’s Hydrographer Hall of Fame.

Andrew Earle, assistant professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship in the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, was honored with a Presidential Responsible Research in Management Award from the International Association for Chinese Management Research for an article he co-authored on encouraging “green chemistry.”

John Aber, professor of natural resources, received the Lifetime Environmental Merit Award from the Environmental Protection Agency’s New England office.

Marko Knezevic, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Qiaoyan Yu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, received Faculty Early Career Development Program, or CAREER, awards from the National Science Foundation.




MAKING A DIFFERENCE New brewing minor and professional workshops tap into New Hampshire’s craft beer boom, now estimated to have a $353 million economic impact

Teacher Residency for Rural Education (TRRE) program trains K–12 math and science educators to teach in New Hampshire’s North Country, addressing a need for STEM education in rural schools

From rural New Hampshire classrooms to the world’s seafloor, UNH research has far-reaching impact



1,000+ pounds of tilapia, grown for research investigating an integrated aquaculture farming project, donated by UNH to the New Hampshire Food Bank

Global team of UNH Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping alumni develop a solution to mapping the entire seafloor by 2030 in competition for the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE

By researching moisture levels, nitrogen and fertilization strategies, UNH Cooperative Extension professor Ryan Dickson helps D.S. Cole Growers and other New Hampshire commercial greenhouses improve production and boost local industry

Strawberry research from UNH’s New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station quadruples the sweet berries’ growing season

Research from the Rosenberg International Franchise Center at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics benefits the field of franchising, which employs 16 million people in the U.S.

Prevention Innovations Research Center develops uSafeUS smartphone app to help prevent campus sexual assault and improve response and resources for victims

Undergraduates Sam Warach ’17 (business), Max Miller ’20 (physics) and Tristan Evarts ’20 (chemical engineering) create NextStep mobile app to connect people with treatment and recovery resources for opioid addiction

Carsey School of Public Policy research on dramatic increase in New Hampshire infants born with symptoms of opioid addiction prompts proposed state legislation to address the issue

UNH Law professor Stan Kowalski’s publications on antibiotic and Chagas disease vaccine patents will accelerate development of and improve access to such life-saving innovations


120,000+ stems of beachgrass planted by NH Sea Grant on public coastline in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts helps restore dunes and improve coastline resilience




Of the many forces influencing the fate of the Great Bay estuary during the past century — development, industry, climate change, resource depletion — perhaps none has made a greater impact than UNH. Less than a mile from the banks of the Oyster River, with its Jackson Estuarine Laboratory jutting into the estuary on Adams Point and its Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex downstream at the mouth of the Piscataqua River, UNH has applied its considerable scientific and cultural resources to the bay, seeking to understand its flora and fauna, its geology and hydrology and history. And in doing so, it’s made Great Bay even greater.



OYSTERS “Remarkable.” That’s how Ray Grizzle, research professor of zoology, describes oysters, the focus of his research in Great Bay for two decades. “Yes, they’re tasty. But on top of that, in the last 30 years we’ve begun to discover their ecological role is fantastic,” he says, noting each briny bivalve’s capacity to filter up to 20 gallons of water per day. While Great Bay’s oyster population dropped dramatically in the 1990s, largely due to a disease, it’s now stabilized, thanks in part to 17 reef restoration projects led by Grizzle and his longtime research technician Krystin Ward. More recently, the team has shifted some of its focus to aquaculture, and 16 commercial oyster farms now thrive in Little Bay. As oyster consumption grows, the work of some UNH researchers aims to help predict future outbreaks and keep sickness off the raw bar. Great Bay is the canary in the Gulf of Maine coal mine when it comes to Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp), the bacterial pathogen that can sicken oyster lovers, says Steve Jones, research associate professor of natural resources, noting that incidents of anyone getting sick from Great Bay or Gulf of Maine oysters are almost unheard of, but oyster farmers just to the south are increasingly experiencing outbreaks and costly shellfish bed closures as waters warm. Jones and associate professor of microbiology Cheryl Whistler are attempting to understand how the changing environment of Great Bay is promoting the strains of Vp that make us sick. And Whistler recently developed a patent-pending method to detect the strains of Vp that cause most of the regional human illness.

HORSESHOE CRABS Horseshoe crabs, those armored beasts that cover Great Bay’s shores in the spring spawning season, are dying to help us. The biomedical industry taps a unique property of their bright blue blood, extracted from live animals, to test injectable drugs and medical devices for contamination, saving millions of lives. To understand the toll this procedure takes on them, professor of biological sciences Win Watson and graduate student Meghan Owings bleed horseshoe crabs in the lab then fit them with devices that track their depth, location and activity after they’re released. They’ve found that between five and 30 percent of the animals die within a few days; others don’t die but are less active and less likely to spawn. Their work has shown it’s not just blood loss, but the bleeding combined with exposure to heat and air during transport that’s most stressful to the animals. Watson is hopeful this research, conducted with Plymouth State University, could improve the crabs’ survival outcomes. “These guys have been around for 450 million years. Do we really want to be the ones responsible for their demise?” he asks.

“Over time, the bay has shifted from being a maritime region focused on transportation and extraction — of oysters, timber, brick — to something we regard as a marine resource, to be understood and protected.” Jeffrey Bolster, UNH professor of history and editor of “Cross-Grained & Wily Waters” (2002), a book of essays on Great Bay and the Piscataqua region.



STORMWATER Since 2004, UNH’s Stormwater Center has worked to protect Great Bay — and 42 other water bodies in communities across the globe — from an abundant, if surprising, source of pollution: rain. Called stormwater, the rain that washes over roads, parking lots, roofs and other impervious surfaces carries excess nitrogen from sources such as exhaust from cars, chemical fertilizers and even animal waste into the bay. “Our mission is to address that by cleaning up the water and putting it back in the ground,” says Stormwater Center program director Jamie Houle ’95, ‘15G. At its field facility on the edge of campus, the center has researched and tested 40-some systems and identified those that work best to keep nitrogen out of the bay. As a program of UNH’s Cooperative Extension, the center shares its expertise with communities in the estuary watershed to help them meet increasingly strict regulations for reducing nitrogen. TIDAL ENERGY A team of UNH engineers seeks to harvest something new from Great Bay: power. The estuary boasts some of the strongest tidal currents in North America, making it the ideal lab for testing equipment that could generate energy from the ebb and flow. UNH’s Center for Ocean Renewable Energy deploys tidal turbines beneath the General Sullivan Bridge, where Little Bay meets the Piscataqua River. Further down river, turbines beneath the Memorial Bridge between Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Kittery, Maine, harness the tides to power a suite of sensors that constantly monitor the health of that so-called “living bridge.”

DATA MONITORING Joe Salisbury knows how fast the wind was blowing across Great Bay last week, how warm or salty the bay was yesterday and what concentrations of nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorous flowed into its waters after the last heavy rainstorm. Salisbury, research associate professor of oceanography in UNH’s Ocean Process Analysis Laboratory, keeps an eye on Great Bay via a large yellow buoy that bobs about a kilometer off Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, one of dozens in the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems. For more than a decade, UNH has monitored changing conditions and health of the estuary by tracking a range of chemical and physical data that deliver good news as well as concerning trends. “Great Bay is ecologically important. The salt marshes and seagrass beds support a food chain that goes right up to seals,” says Salisbury. “But it’s an ecosystem that’s threatened by human pressures, so we want to monitor that.” EELGRASS Eelgrass may be the unsung hero of estuaries: The underwater flowering plant filters water of excess nutrients and contaminants, stabilizes the seabed and provides food and safe shelter to juvenile fish, crabs and lobsters. It’s no wonder Fred Short has made it his life’s work. Since 1984, the research professor of natural resources and marine science has studied Zostera marina in Great Bay, and since 2006 he’s watched it decline. “The beds aren’t thick and lush like they used to be,” Short says, noting that Great Bay has lost 60 percent of its eelgrass. Nitrogen seeping into the estuary through sewage treatment plants or runoff is a culprit; it promotes the growth of light-blocking, smothering algae. But as recent regulations reduce the nitrogen flowing into the estuary, the fate of eelgrass is starting to turn. “I’m very optimistic,” Short says.

UNH’s Great Bay research is supported by numerous sources, including the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institutes of Health and its N.H. INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) program, New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, New Hampshire Sea Grant, NH EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), The Nature Conservancy, NERACOOS (Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems), UNH School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, UNH Center for the Humanities and the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Project.




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t’s an honor no one wants: New Hampshire has the second-highest per capita rate of opioid overdose deaths in the nation. To address this crisis, along with complex issues of mental health and substance abuse disorders, UNH has launched a behavioral health initiative across its campuses. Led by the College of Health and Human Services, the initiative aims to determine how UNH can better serve the behavioral health needs of the state. “A diverse group of UNH faculty, staff and students is collaborating to highlight and improve upon the many efforts underway throughout the university,” says Lucy Hodder, director of health law and policy programs at the UNH School of Law. “Working also with the state, public and nonprofit sectors and the business community, the initiative will make strategic recommendations for aligning the UNH undergraduate and graduate academic curriculum with workforce needs, informing public policy and education through evidence-based research and enhancing behavioral health initiatives both within and beyond the UNH community.”  CALLIE CARR ’09G, ’16G c

Grand Challenges


cknowledging that the greatest challenges facing our world are more than technical problems that can be addressed solely by science and technology, UNH’s College of Liberal Arts (COLA) recently launched the Grand Challenges for the Liberal Arts Initiative to strengthen faculty research that tackles tough issues, including climate change, addiction, civic discourse and interpersonal violence. Sociology professor Kenneth Johnson, for instance, will bring a social science perspective to a new NASA-funded study that looks at the water quality of lakes in the Northeast. Working with UNH scientists Mark Ducey in the natural resources and the environment department and Michael Palace in Earth science, Johnson will add demographic data such as population growth, land-use changes and recreation use to factors like climate change and cyanobacteria blooms to help the team understand how lakes have changed during the past three decades.



“Scientists and engineers remind us again and again that these matters must be understood within broader realms of human concern, like health, vulnerability, sustainability and the joy of living,” says COLA Dean Heidi Bostic (above). “These are basic issues of meaning, purpose and value, questions that the humanities and the broad liberal arts confront: Who are we and how ought we to live?”  SUSAN DUMAIS ’88, ‘02G



The world is getting older. In New England and throughout the United States, the gap between the young and the old has been steadily increasing since the 1950s. Statistics show that by 2030, one in five Americans will be older than 65. In New Hampshire, thanks to baby boomers, the older adult population will double during the next two decades. For seniors, their families and caregivers and policymakers nationwide, questions loom: How will they age? Where will they live? What will they need? Will there be enough resources to meet those needs? UNH researchers from across the disciplines are answering those questions, completing the picture of what aging in America looks like in the 21st century and creating knowledge that promotes healthy, happy aging for seniors and the communities that support them — and that they in turn support. Kenneth Johnson, the Class of 1940 professor of sociology and senior demographer at UNH’s Carsey School of Public Policy, conducts demographic analyses that are being used to help states gauge future decision-making and policy changes. With the youngest and oldest citizens being the biggest consumers of such things as education and healthcare, changes in these populations will have significant implications on public services, particularly for older adults, he says. “Who’s going to take care of all these older people?” Johnson asks. “What will be the cost to the states? These are things that have to be addressed.”



What’s more, as these older adults retire, there will be less human capital to fuel continued economic growth. “In New Hampshire, for example, the slower growth of the working age population is a cause for some concern. It will have a big influence on state resources,” Johnson says. On the flip side, Karen Smith Conway’s research reveals something that isn’t influencing resources in the way many states anticipated: older adults moving out of state because of state estate and inheritance taxes. “The argument has been made for decades that the elderly move in response to these taxes, and this has driven a movement among states to get rid of estate taxes and grant or expand income tax breaks for the elderly,” says Conway, the John A. Hogan Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. “Our research has not found any evidence that there is a significant effect from these policies.” Today, fewer than 20 states have estate and inheritance taxes, and every state with an income tax grants some kind of tax break to its senior citizens. In fact, since January 2017, at least 13 states have seen legislation aimed at eliminating or reducing taxes for the elderly. Yet Conway’s research shows that fewer than 1 percent of the elderly move across state lines in any one year. Additionally, the tax breaks states are giving are often sizable, and as they continue to increase as the older population grows, state revenue will be further reduced. “Even if everyone did in fact move because of these taxes, the tax cuts would not pay for themselves,” she says. An emerging area of research that impacts where older adults do reside has assistant professor of social work BoRin Kim exploring the associations between health changes and living arrangements among the elderly.



“Along with an aging population, understanding the factors contributing to successful aging in place becomes more important,” Kim says. “The impact on individual well-being and social costs is much greater than in the past.” Kim has found that a diverse social network, home modification, community-based services and senior housing are all protective factors that help seniors maintain their physical, psychological and social well-being. “Most elders prefer to stay in their home as long as possible,” Kim says, adding that doing so allows them to preserve social relations with their neighbors and continue to use resources in their community. Creating social programs and other interventions to help them age in place successfully, she says, could reduce social costs related to expensive health- and nursing home care. With a major National Institutes of Health grant, Kerryellen Vroman and Sajay Arthanat, both associate professors of occupational therapy, are conducting a three-year study investigating the effectiveness of information communication technology (ICT) for older adults to promote healthy aging in place. “Social isolation, loneliness and depression are challenges of later years, especially when mobility and health are impaired,” Arthanat says, adding that the program is designed for older adults who are least familiar with technology. Based on a survey of more than 600 individuals, the project has UNH occupational therapy students working one-on-one with older adults in New England to provide home-based training aimed at improving skills — emailing with family and friends, taking photos or searching the internet, for example. The training also looks at how ICT use could progress and be sustained.

Occupational therapy graduate students provide home-based technology training to older adults in Durham as part of a study conducted by Kerryellen Vroman and Sajay Arthanat (above right) on healthy aging in place. Above left, Rachel Duqette and Emily Andrews work with Ann Pepin. Below right, Julia Wise with Charlotte Katherine Umberhind.

Additionally, the study will evaluate whether, with training, seniors will move to such practical functions as banking or ordering prescriptions online as well as examining their leisure use, an area that has borne unexpected results. “One thing that we are pleasantly surprised by is how many people have enjoyed the recreation aspect — word games, Scrabble, Pinterest. While it is purely anecdotal information at this point, that has been really rewarding to see,” Vroman says. Maintaining independence and health as we age often turns on a single, if surprising, physical factor: Leg strength. “We use our legs for almost anything we do — walk, get out of a chair, climb stairs,” says exercise scientist Summer Cook. “Lower extremity function is what lets you live on your own,” adds Dain LaRoche, like Cook, an associate professor of kinesiology. LaRoche and Cook, working with graduate and undergraduate students, research how seniors can build and maintain that strength.

Cook is evaluating an alternative to traditional highintensity resistance training with a regimen in which subjects lift very light weights while a cuff (much like a blood pressure cuff) restricts oxygen to the muscle. “This type of exercise is attractive as it can be used in clinical settings for patients with joint pain, arthritis or in post-surgery rehabilitation,” she says. “My research has shown that this blood flowrestricted resistance training can improve muscle mass and strength in older adults.” LaRoche’s work aims to understand factors — biomechanical, neuromuscular and metabolic — that limit mobility in older adults. How does leg strength and power affect walking economy and fall risk, for instance, and what role does obesity play? “There’s a gap between life expectancy and quality of life in older age,” he says. “We can improve that a lot with physical activity.” c



RESEARCH ON THE EDGE UNH is second among North American institutions in scholarly productivity in ecology, a study published by the Ecological Society of America found recently. 



IN THE SPOTLIGHT... • In the first long-term study of New Hampshire’s bumble bee population, Molly Jacobson ’17 (pictured) and other researchers funded by UNH’s New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station found three of the state’s most important bumble bee species have declined drastically over the last 150 years.

• UNH soil scientists Serita Frey and Stuart Grandy co-authored a major study, published in Science, that found that when forest soils warm, they can release abundant carbon into the atmosphere, creating a feedback loop that could accelerate global warming.




from Bench to Bedside New research center brings together multiple disciplines to advance solutions for human health and well-being BY SAR AH SCHAIER

Jeffrey Halpern, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at UNH, is working to address a prevalent mental health challenge: major depressive disorder (MDD), which frequently goes unrecognized and undiagnosed in the 16.1 million Americans who suffer from it. But the path from the lab to the doctor’s office can be a long one, especially for researchers working in higher education.



That’s why Halpern, along with four other distinguished junior investigators, will be receiving support through UNH’s new Center of Integrated Biomedical and Bioengineering Research (CIBBR). The center, which is funded by a five-year, $10 million Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will accelerate the translation of their basic biomedical and bioengineering research into actual innovative tools and treatments that improve human health. Halpern and his team are developing the first point-of-care diagnostic sensor that can accurately detect the chemical profile of diseases in patients’ drawn blood. His goal is to produce a low-cost, high-throughput tool that can diagnose MDD in the doctor’s office, leading to swifter treatment and better patient outcomes. The technology may one day be used to diagnose other psychiatric diseases, neurological diseases and cancers.

UNH’s new Center of Integrated Biomedical and Bioengineering Research is funded by a five-year, $10 million Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant from the National Institutes of Health.

While Halpern is designing his sensors to function outside the body, fellow junior investigator and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Edward Song is developing sensors to help clinical researchers monitor the behavior of multiple neurotransmitters inside the brain. The information gained from Song’s sensor will help unravel the complex root causes of neurological diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, paving the way for earlier diagnosis and new clinical approaches. Unlocking brain functions at the molecular level is also the goal of Xuanmao Chen’s research. Chen, an assistant professor of neurobiology, has discovered an enzyme that, when it undergoes a specific mutation, causes both obesity and depression. As a part of the CIBBR, he is working to determine the cause of the mutation and develop therapeutic interventions that prevent it from happening.

While an understanding of brain chemistry will solve many human health issues, Sergey Charntikov says there’s a pressing crisis — addiction — that requires a different tack. The assistant professor of psychology is investigating the role environmental stimuli play among smokers, and he believes this new approach, which doesn’t focus on nicotine’s addictive chemical properties, will lead to more effective individualized treatments and better longterm outcomes. Among recent medical innovations, biofabrication offers some of the most exciting human health impacts. Advances in tissue regeneration mean that, someday, waiting lists for donated organs and artificial bones made from metal alloys will be relegated to the annals of medical history. At the CIBBR, Kyung Jae Jeong is working to hasten the arrival of that day. Jeong, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, is developing implantable,



temporary scaffolds that work with patients’ cells and biological signals to regenerate an organ or repair damaged tissue or bone.

CIBBR researchers Xuanmao Chen,

The main challenge, Jeong explains, is creating an implantable device that won’t be rejected by the body; he and his team are working to design scaffolds that will be accepted by a patient’s immune system. Jeong’s lab will help supply a skilled workforce for federally funded biofabrication programs like the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute in Manchester.

(left to right).

This COBRE grant caps a decade of UNH supporting interdisciplinary research and teaching in bioengineering and biomedicine and making strategic investments in instrumentation, infrastructure and faculty. “We’re focused on supporting the best biomedical and bioengineering research on campus and helping the researchers think about their work for its clinical, translational medicine and commercialization potential,” says Rick Cote, professor and chair of the department of molecular, cellular and biomedical sciences. “It’s a very powerful opportunity to bring together biomedical and bioengineering researchers and promote their interactions and collaborations with each other, as well as providing avenues to work with clinical researchers at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine and elsewhere.” Cote, who is the principal investigator for the award, will direct the CIBBR with Kelley Thomas, Hubbard Professor of Genomics and director of the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies,

Kyung Jae Jeong, Jeffrey Halpern, Edward Song and Sergey Charntikov

Don Wojchowski, UNH professor of biomedical sciences, and Steven Fiering, professor of microbiology and immunology at Dartmouth. In addition to interdisciplinary collaborations, the investigators will benefit from the acquisition of new instrumentation, including a laser scanning confocal microscope and an X-ray photon spectrometer, and from a comprehensive mentoring program that will prepare them to compete successfully for their own independent research grants. The grant will also fund undergraduate and graduate researchers working in all five labs, giving UNH students hands-on access to some of the most leading-edge research on campus and important experience working under an NIH-funded project. The NIH award is the first of three five-year grants available under the NIH COBRE program. But for now, the primary focus is the success of the research projects led by Charntikov, Halpern, Jeong, Chen and Song. Their ability to secure independent funding and “graduate” from the center, says Cote, will be the ultimate measure of the CIBBR’s achievement. As for the five junior investigators, they have eagerly begun working on their CIBBR-sponsored research projects. “The grant is an invaluable opportunity for researchers early in their careers,” says Charntikov. “It will enable all of us to do research at the highest level.”



Creative and Scholarly Works As a flagship public research university, our environment of innovation sparks creative expression. Here we spotlight artistic and scholarly achievements of some faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts.

ART Jennifer Moses, professor of art Work From Wyoming Kingston Gallery · Boston, Mass. · Fall 2017 Leah Woods, assistant professor of art Sculpturefest 2017 King Farm · Woodstock, Vt. · Summer 2017 The Sphere-Second Round American Association of Woodturners–Gallery of Wood Art St. Paul, Minn. · Spring 2017



Delia Konzett, professor of English Hollywood’s Hawaii: Race, Nation, and War Rutgers University Press, March 2017

Szu-Feng Chen, associate professor of theatre and dance The Wee Question Mark and the Nameless: A Family Musical Set Design The Theatre Practice · Singapore · August 2017

Josh Lauer, associate professor of communication Creditworthy: A History of Consumer Surveillance and Financial Identity in America Columbia University Press, July 2017 Jason Sokol, Arthur K. Whitcomb associate professor of history The Heavens Might Crack: The Death and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Basic Books, March 2018 Lyn K. L. Tjon Soei Len, assistant professor of women’s studies Minimum Contract Justice: A Capabilities Perspective on Sweatshops and Consumer Contracts Hart Publishing, May 2017

MUSIC Nathan Jorgensen, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies A Miraculous Tale: Mixed Music for Percussion and Saxophone Centaur Records, March 2017. This collaboration with Aaron Ragsdale, associate professor of percussion at South Dakota State University, includes compositions by Astor Piazzolla, Ekhard Kopetzki, Nathan Daughtrey, Halim El-Dabh and Marc Mellits.




As UNH President Mark Huddleston prepares to retire in June, he reflects upon his decade at the university and its impact on research. In 2008, shortly after his arrival at UNH, Huddleston convened the Presidential Blue Ribbon Panel on Research, charged with laying the foundation for a robust and enduring research enterprise at UNH. He recently spoke with senior vice provost for research Jan Nisbet in his office in Thompson Hall.

How has the research landscape at UNH changed since you arrived in 2007? It’s changed radically, I think. When I got here, research seemed pretty walled off in a few places, principally — but not entirely — EOS [the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space]. In the intervening decade, the whole institution has begun to take on that mission more fully. Now funding is more evenly distributed throughout the colleges. When you think about university research broadly and how it fits into the fabric of the institution, do you think we’re going to look different in 10 years? I think all of higher ed is going to look different in 10 years. UNH will withstand a lot of the turbulence that will hit higher ed because so much of our research enterprise informs our teaching enterprise and vice versa. That probably strengthens both of them in a way that maintains our vitality and integrity more than in bigger institutions, where there’s more of a divorce between those missions. Is there a research project or event or finding of which you’re particularly proud? Going to Cape Canaveral for the launch of MMS [NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, for which UNH coordinated or constructed nearly half



the instruments] was a highlight. That so many students who worked on those instruments came to the launch is a real testament to our model. I also loved learning about Jim Haney’s research on cyanobacteria in lakes. It’s a discovery that has enormous potential impact on human health in New Hampshire and beyond. Our ocean mapping work is hugely important, as is Nancy Kinner’s work on oil spills. I’m impressed with Northeast Passage’s growth and development, and our American history scholars are among the best. In every single college across the university, there’s something stellar. What do you wish more people knew and understood about UNH and UNH research? I wish people knew how much research we do and how much impact it has. Among our peer institutions around the country, I don’t think there’s an appreciation for how much research goes on here or the quality of it, particularly in select areas. I suppose people in those disciplines are aware of it, but I don’t think that’s spilled over to the general reputation of the university. And I really wish people in the state understood our impact. We’d be a very different state if it weren’t for UNH and the research that’s done here.


Research excellence at the University of New Hampshire, the state’s flagship public university, reaches from the uncharted ocean depths to the edge of our solar system and the Earth we call home, from understanding our changing climate to protecting our most vulnerable populations. Powered by more than $100 million in competitive external funding, UNH research transforms lives, solves global challenges and drives economic growth and engages the next generation of innovators.


College of Engineering and Physical Sciences Wayne Jones, Dean

2018 Research Review

College of Health and Human Services Michael Ferrara, Dean

A D M I N I S T R AT I O N President Mark W. Huddleston Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Nancy Targett

College of Liberal Arts Heidi Bostic, Dean

Senior Vice Provost for Research Jan Nisbet

College of Life Sciences and Agriculture Jon Wraith, Dean

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs P.T. Vasudevan

Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics Deborah Merrill-Sands, Dean

Senior Vice Provost for Engagement and Academic Outreach Julie E. Williams E D I TO R Beth Potier WRITERS Beth Potier Callie Carr ‘09G, ‘16G Dave Moore Jennifer Saunders Jody Record ’95 Sarah Schaier Susan Dumais ’88, ‘02G

CO N T R I B U T I N G P H OTO G R A P H E R S Aiting Huan Brooks Payette David Vogt Grace Delgado Jeremy Gasowski John Hession Lisa Nugent Perry Smith Scott Ripley University Instrumentation Center Valerie Lester

DESIGN Five Line Creative

UNH.EDU/MAIN/RESEARCH @unhresearchnews  603.862.1948

University of New Hampshire at Manchester Michael Decelle, Dean University of New Hampshire School of Law Megan Carpenter, Dean Graduate School Cari Moorhead, Interim Dean Cooperative Extension Kenneth La Valley, Dean and Director Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space Harlan Spence, Director School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering Larry Mayer, Director Carsey School of Public Policy Michael Ettlinger, Director


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In September, UNH became one of just three institutions worldwide given a Platinum rating for campus sustainability by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, called STARS.

“As home to the oldest endowed university sustainability program in the U.S., UNH has sustainability ingrained in all that we do across education, research and practice.” Mark Huddleston, UNH President

UNH SPARK 2018 Research Review  

University of New Hampshire

UNH SPARK 2018 Research Review  

University of New Hampshire